CONCERTS
Pinchas Zukerman Pinchas Zukerman Amanda Forsyth Amanda Forsyth
Passion and Purity

IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Amanda Forsyth, cello

Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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In Passion and Purity our season-long tribute to Beethoven begins with a work unparalleled in the violin repertoire. One of the greatest violinists of our time, Pinchas Zukerman, will make his IRIS debut playing the Violin Concerto in D major. As regal and serene as any music ever written, the Violin Concerto puts Beethoven’s mastery and Zukerman’s talent on full display: the clarity of its pure, transparent lines demands complete virtuosity. No composer wore the mantle of Beethoven’s legacy more heavily on his shoulders than Brahms, whose Double Concerto for Violin and Cello will be played by Zukerman and his wife and musical partner, the remarkable Canadian cellist Amanda Forsyth. This work fuses the timbres and personalities of both solo instruments into one passionate conversation, held against a symphonic orchestral backdrop. Opening the program is Mozart at his most “Beethovenian,” his daringly dramatic overture to his late masterpiece Don Giovanni.

PROGRAM
Mozart Overture to Don GiovanniAbout this Music

Composed in 1787. Premiered on October 29, 1787 in Prague, under the direction of the composer.

The Marriage of Figaro played in Prague for the first time in December of 1786; it was a smash hit. When Mozart visited the city the following month for further performances of the opera, he reported that “here they talk about nothing but Figaro. Nothing is played, sung or whistled but Figaro. No opera is drawing like Figaro. Nothing, nothing but Figaro.” In the wake of Figaro’s success, Pasquale Bondini, the manager of Italian opera at Prague’s National Theater and the local producer of Figaro, commissioned Mozart to write a new piece for his fall season for the considerable sum of 100 ducats, equal to 12.1 ounces of gold bullion. As soon as Mozart returned to Vienna in February, he asked Lorenzo da Ponte, creator of the masterful libretto for Figaro, to write the book for the new opera. Da Ponte suggested the subject of Don Juan; Mozart agreed. By 1787, the legendary libertine had been the central character in stage presentations for at least a century-and-a-half (a Spanish play from 1630 by Tirso de Molina seems to be the ultimate source of the story), but da Ponte’s immediate model was an opera called Don Giovanni Tennorio presented in Venice on February 5, 1787, with music by Giuseppe Gazzaniga and words by Giovanni Bertati.

During the early months of 1787, Da Ponte simultaneously received libretto commissions from Mozart, Salieri, and Vicente Martin y Soler, the popular Spanish composer of comic operas then based in Vienna, and he described the arduous work on them in his memoirs, written in the 1820s, after he had settled in New York City: “I sat down at my writing table and stayed there for twelve hours on end, with a little bottle of tokay at my right hand, an inkstand in the middle, and a box of Seville tobacco on the left. A beautiful young girl of sixteen was living in my house with her mother, who looked after the household. (I should have wished to love her only as a daughter, but … ) She came into my room whenever I rang the bell, which in truth was fairly often, and particularly when my inspiration seemed to begin to cool. She brought me now a biscuit, now a cup of coffee, or again nothing but her own lovely face, always gay, always smiling and made precisely to inspire poetic fancy and brilliant ideas.” Under such hardship was the libretto for Don Giovanni conceived; the verses were finished by June.

Mozart worked throughout the late summer on the score, and left for Prague with his wife, Constanze, on October 1, 1787. He applied the final touches to the music as the rehearsals proceeded, but two days before the October 29th premiere he had still not written the overture. The evening before the dress rehearsal, according to an account in a biography of the composer by Constanze’s second husband, Georg von Nissen, “Mozart told his wife that he wanted to write the overture that night, and asked her to make him some punch and stay up with him to keep him merry. She did so, told him fairy tales of Aladdin’s Lamp … and so on, which made him laugh until the tears came to his eyes. But the punch made him sleepy, so that he nodded whenever she paused, and worked only while she was talking. But since his exertion, his sleepiness, his frequent nodding and catching himself made the work terribly hard, his wife made him lie down on the couch, promising to wake him up in an hour. But he slept so soundly that she did not have the heart to do so, and only awakened him after two hours had passed. This was at five o’clock. The copyist had been ordered for seven o’clock; at seven o’clock the Overture was finished.” Such compositional celerity passes all understanding for us mere mortals, but it was common to Mozart, as Ernest Newman explained in his study of the composer: “He had not only extraordinary facility in composition; he also had a marvelous memory. ‘Composition,’ for him, meant developing the work in his head; he found the business of writing it out rather tiresome, and he would often postpone it as long as he could. There can be little doubt that the Overture to Don Giovanni had been worked out in his head long before the final rehearsal and that all he had to do on that historic night was to put the notes on paper.”

The premiere of Don Giovanni was a triumph exceeded in Prague only by the wild success of The Marriage of Figaro. Mozart was feted and acclaimed and invited to take up residence in the city, but he decided rather to return to Vienna — reports correctly had the old composer to the Habsburg court, Christoph Willibald von Gluck, near death, and Mozart hoped to succeed him in the position. (In December, after Gluck died, he did, but at a fraction of his predecessor’s salary.) In addition to his interest in securing a court post in Vienna, Constanze was near giving birth and she wanted to return home to be cared for by her own doctors. (A daughter, Theresia, was born on December 26th; she died six months later.) Don Giovanni, with some additional music, was first given in Vienna in May 1788; the local audiences, however, did not care much for it, and its near-failure proved a setback from which Mozart never fully recovered.

“Everything in this tremendous introduction breathes terror and inspires awe,” wrote the French composer Charles Gounod of the opening of the Don Giovanni Overture. These august preludial strains, the only music from the opera heard in the Overture, later accompany the graveyard scene, during which the statue of the Commendatore, whom Giovanni has slain in the first scene, comes chillingly to life. Giovanni invites the specter to dinner. The Commendatore consequently appears at Giovanni’s banquet and carries the unrepentant libertine to Hell. The remainder of the Overture follows traditional sonata form, heightened in expression by a sizeable central development section of considerable emotional weight.

Brahms Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra About this Music

Composed in 1887. Premiered on October 18, 1887 in Cologne, with Joseph Joachim and Robert Hausmann as soloists and the composer conducting.

Johannes Brahms first met the violinist Joseph Joachim in 1853. They became close friends and musical allies — the Violin Concerto was not only written for Joachim in 1878 but also benefited from his careful advice in many matters of string technique. Joachim was a faithful champion of Brahms’ music, playing it at every possible occasion and doing much to help establish the young composer’s reputation across the Continent. In 1880, however, when Joachim was suing his wife for divorce over an alleged infidelity, Brahms took it upon himself to meddle in the family’s domestic affairs. He believed that Frau Joachim was innocent of the charges, and sided with her. Joachim was, understandably, enraged, and he broke off his personal relationship with Brahms, though he continued to play his music; the two did not speak for years.

On July 19, 1887, when he was 54, Brahms, a curmudgeonly bachelor who found it difficult to make friends, sent Joachim a terse postcard from Thun, Switzerland, where the composer was summering that year: “I should like to send you some news of an artistic nature which I heartily hope might more or less interest you.” Joachim replied immediately: “I hope that you are going to tell me about a new work, for I have read and played your latest works with real delight.” Brahms sent his news: “I have been unable to resist the ideas that have been occurring to me for a concerto for violin and cello, much as I have tried to talk myself out of it. Now, the only thing that really interests me about this is the question of what your attitude toward it may be. Would you consider trying the work over somewhere with [Robert] Hausmann [the cellist in Joachim’s Quartet] and me at the piano?”


Joachim agreed to Brahms’ proposals. On July 26th, Brahms sent him the solo parts and asked for his advice. Five days later the violinist replied: “Herewith I am posting you the parts with some proposed minor alterations with which I hope you will agree. It is very playable, generally. What’s to be done now? Hausmann and I are most anxious to go on with it.” As he had with the Violin Concerto, Brahms accepted only a few of Joachim’s suggestions, though he did rework some passages on his own after the violinist had pointed out their difficulties. Brahms had a fair copy of the score and parts made, and arranged to have the formal premiere given by the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne in October. The work, Brahms’ last for orchestra, was given a cool reception. Concerning the personal relationship between the composer and the violinist, however, the work was an unqualified success. Brahms’ dear friend Clara Schumann noted with pleasure in her diary that “this Concerto was in a way a work of reconciliation — Joachim and Brahms have spoken to each other again after years of silence.”

The opening movement largely follows Classical concerto-sonata form, though Brahms prefaced it with a bold paragraph introducing the soloists. The main theme, given by the entire orchestra, is a somber but majestic strain that mixes duple and triple rhythms. The second theme is a tender, sighing phrase introduced by the woodwind choir. The soloists then join the orchestra for their elaborated re-presentation of the themes. A development section (begun by the soloists in unison) and a full recapitulation and coda round out the movement. Two quiet summons from horns and woodwinds mark the beginning of the Andante. The principal theme of the movement’s three-part form is a warmly lyrical melody for violin and cello in unison; parallel harmonies in the woodwinds usher in the central section. The finale is a playful rondo heavily influenced by the melodic leadings and vibrant rhythms of Gypsy music.

Beethoven Violin ConcertoAbout this Music

Composed in 1806. Premiered on December 23, 1806 in Vienna, with Franz Clement as soloist.

In 1794, two years after he moved to Vienna from Bonn, Beethoven attended a concert by an Austrian violin prodigy named Franz Clement. To Clement, then fourteen years old, the young composer wrote, “Dear Clement! Go forth on the way which you hitherto have travelled so beautifully, so magnificently. Nature and art vie with each other in making you a great artist. Follow both and, never fear, you will reach the great — the greatest — goal possible to an artist here on earth. All wishes for your happiness, dear youth; and return soon, that I may again hear your dear, magnificent playing. Entirely your friend, L. v. Beethoven.”

Beethoven’s wish was soon granted. Clement was appointed conductor and concertmaster of the Theater-an-der-Wien in Vienna in 1802, where he was closely associated with Beethoven in the production of Fidelio and as the conductor of the premiere of the Third Symphony. Clement, highly esteemed by his contemporaries as a violinist, musician and composer for his instrument, was also noted for his fabulous memory. One tale relates that Clement, after participating in a single performance of Haydn’s The Creation, wrote out a score for the entire work from memory, which he then submitted to the composer for corrections. So few were needed that the incredulous Haydn was convinced Clement had copied the score, though that was quite impossible since it had not yet been published. Of Clement’s style of violin performance, Boris Schwarz wrote, “His playing was graceful rather than vigorous, his tone small but expressive, and he possessed unfailing assurance and purity in high positions and exposed entrances.” It was for Clement that Beethoven produced his only Violin Concerto.

The Violin Concerto was written during the most productive period of Beethoven’s life: the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, Fourth Piano Concerto, Coriolan Overture, three Op. 59 Quartets and numerous other works clustered within a few months of its composition in 1806. So busy was Beethoven that he was able to finish the Concerto only on the day of the concert, making orchestral rehearsals for the premiere impossible. Clement, who had probably been following the progress of the work as Beethoven was composing it, must have carried the day, however, because the concert proved to be at least a partial success. Johann Nepomuk Möser provided a review of the performance that was typical of many notices Beethoven received during his lifetime: “The judgment of connoisseurs about Beethoven’s music is unanimous; they acknowledge some beautiful passages in it, but they admit that the work frequently seems to lack coherence and that the endless repetitions of some trite passages tend to be tiring.... There is some fear that Beethoven, by persisting in this, will do serious harm to himself and to the public.... On the whole,” Möser added, “the audience liked this concerto and Clement’s fantasias very much.” The “fantasias” put on display by Clement that evening were his own works, and probably accounted in no small part for the audience’s good response to the concert. Clement was apparently as adept a showman as he was a virtuoso, and he played these pieces, which he programmed between the first two movements of Beethoven’s Concerto, with the instrument turned upside-down, virtually assuring a success. The Viennese public knew a master when they saw one.
Such topsy-turvy histrionics were an accepted (and expected) facet of early-19th-century concert life, and Clement seems, in sum, to have been a fine musician. Certainly the Concerto that he inspired from Beethoven, one of that master’s most endearingly beautiful compositions, is unsurpassed by any other in the entire literature for the violin. Of the seemingly contradictory qualities of grandeur and intimacy in this work, Sir Donald Tovey commented, “Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is gigantic, one of the most spacious concertos ever written, but so quiet that when it was a novelty most people complained quite as much of its insignificance as of its length. All its most famous strokes of genius are not only mysteriously quiet, but mysterious in radiantly happy surroundings. The whole gigantic scheme is serene.” It is not surprising that such an introspective work failed to gain immediate popularity in the age of flamboyant virtuosity that was the 19th-century concert circuit. The Concerto enjoyed very few hearings until another child prodigy, Joseph Joachim, at the age of thirteen, took it up in 1844 and included it in his programs all over Europe. To give it yet another lease on life, Muzio Clementi, the piano virtuoso and music publisher, convinced Beethoven to arrange the score as a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. The most interesting aspect of that transcription was Beethoven’s inclusion of a kettledrum accompaniment for one of the cadenzas.

The sweet, lyrical nature and wide compass of the solo part of this Concerto were influenced by the polished style of Clement’s playing. The five soft taps on the timpani that open the work not only serve to establish the key and the rhythm of the movement, but also recur as a unifying phrase throughout. The main theme is introduced in the second measure by the woodwinds in a chorale-like setting that emphasizes the smooth contours of this lovely melody. A transition, with rising scales in the winds and quicker rhythmic figures in the strings, accumulates a certain intensity before it quiets to usher in the second theme, another legato strophe entrusted to the woodwinds. Immediately after its entry, the violin soars into its highest register, where it presents a touching obbligato spun around the main thematic material of the orchestral introduction. The development section is largely given over to wide-ranging figurations for the soloist. The recapitulation begins with a recall of the five drum strokes of the opening, here spread across the full orchestra sounding in unison. The themes from the exposition return with more elaborate embellishment from the soloist. Following the cadenza, the second theme serves as a coda.

“In the slow movement,” wrote Tovey, “we have one of the cases of sublime inaction achieved by Beethoven and by no one else except in certain lyrics and masterpieces of choral music.” The comparison to vocal music is certainly appropriate for this hymnal movement. Though it is technically a theme and variations, it seems less like some earth-bound form than it does a floating constellation of ethereal tones, polished and hung against a velvet night sky with infinite care and flawless precision. Music of such limited dramatic contrast cannot be brought to a satisfactory conclusion in this context, and so here it leads without pause into the vivacious rondo-finale. The solo violin trots out the principal theme before it is taken over by the full orchestra. This jaunty tune returns three times, the last appearance forming a large coda. The intervening episodes allow for a flashing virtuoso display from the soloist and even a touch of melancholy in one of the few minor-mode sections of the Concerto.

ARTISTS
Pinchas Zukerman violinAbout this Artist

Pinchas Zukerman has remained a phenomenon in the world of music for over four decades. His musical genius, prodigious technique and unwavering artistic standards are a marvel to audiences and critics. Devoted to the next generation of musicians, he has inspired younger artists with his magnetism and passion. His enthusiasm for teaching has resulted in innovative programs in London, New York, China, Israel and Ottawa. The name Pinchas Zukerman is equally respected as violinist, violist, conductor, pedagogue and chamber musician.

Pinchas Zukerman's 2013-2014 season includes over 100 worldwide performances, bringing him to multiple destinations in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Mr. Zukerman is currently in his 15th season as Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, with whom he tours China this fall. In his fifth season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, he leads the ensemble in concerts in Spain, Russia and the United Kingdom and a nationwide tour of the United States. Additional orchestral engagements include the Vienna Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Salzburg Camerata, Israel Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and a return visit to Australia for appearances with the Sydney and Adelaide Symphonies and West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth. Spring recitals with pianist Yefim Bronfman take place throughout North America and the Zukerman ChamberPlayers perform at the Ravinia, Verbier and Miyazaki Festivals in addition to their third South American tour.

Over the last decade, Pinchas Zukerman has become as equally regarded a conductor as he is an instrumentalist, leading many of the world's top ensembles in a wide variety of the orchestral repertoire's most demanding works. A devoted and innovative pedagogue, Mr. Zukerman chairs the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has pioneered the use of distance-learning technology in the arts. In Canada, he has established the NAC Institute for Orchestra Studies and the Summer Music Institute encompassing the Young Artists, Conductors and Composers Programs.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1948, Pinchas Zukerman came to America in 1962 where he studied at The Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian. He has been awarded the Medal of Arts, the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence and was appointed as the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative's first instrumentalist mentor in the music discipline. Pinchas Zukerman's extensive discography contains over 100 titles, and has earned him 21 Grammy nominations and two awards.

Amanda Forsyth celloAbout this Artist

The effusive critical acclaim for cellist Amanda Forsyth’s playing and technique is as varied as the range she displays as an internationally in-demand soloist, chamber musician and principal cello of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. Critics have praised her vibrant, assertive and energetic sound while also hailing her as a warm, lyrical, articulate and gracious musician. In all roles, she is noted as a performer of distinction and dedication with impeccable technique and command.

In January 2014 Ms. Forsyth toured the US as a featured soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with concerts in Newport News, VA, Fairfax, VA, Louisville, KY, Carmel, IN, Los Angeles, CA, Palm Desert, CA, Santa Barbara, CA and San Diego, CA. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in March 2014 with the Israel Philharmonic, traveling with the orchestra to perform in West Palm Beach, FL.

In addition to frequent performances and tours with the Royal Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras, she regularly performs with such orchestras as Orchestre Radio de France, Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra including their summer tour of Mediterranean island venues in 2011. In the US she has performed with the San Diego, Colorado and Grand Rapids Symphonies and toured with the Dallas Symphony in both Texas and on its tour of Florida, and with the Oregon Symphony. She made her debut at the Moscow Conservatory in 2009 returning with the Moscow Virtuosi in both Moscow and St Petersburg in 2011 for performances that were filmed for national television broadcast. In June 2012 Ms. Forsyth appeared with the Mariinsky Orchestra in St Petersburg conducted by Valery Gergiev and was reengaged as part of the reopening of the hall in 2013. Her performances with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra have earned critical acclaim and she has performed return engagements in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sichuan, Shenyang and Beijing.

Ms. Forsyth returned to her position as principal cello of the National Arts Centre Orchestra for the 2013-14 season following a year-long sabbatical. She was the featured soloist in March 2014 performing a double concerto composed by her late father, Dr. Malcolm Forsyth. She has performed and recorded her father’s compositions throughout her career, winning a Juno Award in 1997 for her recording of his cello concerto Elektra Rising.

As a founding member of the Zukerman ChamberPlayers she has visited Germany, Israel, Italy, Finland, Holland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Turkey, and cities such as London, Vienna, Paris, Belgrade, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Warsaw and Barcelona, and performed for the Petra Conference for Nobel Laureates in Jordan. In addition this ensemble has had a series in New York at the 92nd Street Y and has performed several South American tours. In March 2013 Ms. Forsyth returned to Asia with the ensemble for concerts in Taiwan, China and Japan followed by concerts in Santa Monica, CA and Scottsdale, AZ Summer festival appearances included Ravinia, Tanglewood, Verbier and Edinburgh in 2013. She has appeared regularly at Japan’s Miyazaki Festival and in May 2011 she appeared in gala fundraising concerts following the Japanese earthquake disaster. In late 2013 Ms Forsyth will return to Australia for performances with the Sydney Symphony, the West Australian Symphony and the Adelaide Symphony.

Born in South Africa, Ms. Forsyth moved to Canada as a child and began playing cello at age three. She became a protégé of William Pleeth in London, and later studied with Harvey Shapiro at the Juilliard School. After two seasons with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra she became the youngest principal ever selected by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra—a post she occupied for six years. She was appointed principal cello of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in 1998.

Ms. Forsyth’s recordings appear on the Sony Classics, Naxos, Altara, Fanfare, Marquis, Pro Arte and CBC labels. In 2002 she was the subject of the Bravo! Canada television documentary Amanda Rising: The Amanda Forsyth Story. The program followed Ms. Forsyth’s life from her early years as a young South African immigrant to her later success on the international music scene. In 2007 Ms. Forsyth featured prominently on Wynton Marsalis’s soundtrack for The War, Ken Burns’s widely-acclaimed World War II documentary filmed for PBS.

Outside of the concert hall, Ms. Forsyth is an enthusiastic and accomplished combat karate practitioner who currently holds her red belt in the sport. Ms. Forsyth performs on a rare 1699 Italian cello by Carlo Giuseppe Testore.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioConductor Michael Stern is the Music Director of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. Now in its second decade, IRIS has a unique model, drawing its musicians from the leading orchestras, universities and chamber groups around the country. IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, IRIS has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2014-15 season also marks Stern's ninth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. Mr. Stern and the orchestra, joined by an amazing collection of guest artists, have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their new world-class performance home, Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kansas City Symphony’s second CD for award-winning audiophile label Reference Recordings, Britten’s Orchestra, won a 2011 Grammy award in the “Surround Sound Album” category, and producer David Frost won “Producer of the Year, Classical.” The Symphony and Mr. Stern have also recorded for the Naxos label. The Symphony’s concerts with internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato were featured on the national PBS Summer Arts Series in July 2012.

Other positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.

Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others.

In North America, Mr. Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Mr. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history. He makes his home in Kansas City and in Connecticut with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two young daughters.

 

VIDEO

 

 



IRIS Musicians
A Circle of Seasons
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: The musicians of IRIS

Date: Saturday, December 6, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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As the holiday season approaches, A Circle of Seasons highlights the virtuoso ranks of our IRIS string players. Launching this program is a work of enormous potency, one of the miracles of the string quartet repertoire, Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. Beethoven understands the frailty of the human condition, but trusting in the power of music, his faith in a victorious outcome is unwavering. He calls us to believe as passionately as he does in

music’s power to triumph over chaos. This deeply moving piece is foil for the two solo works on the program: Vivaldi’s perennial masterpiece, The Four Seasons written almost a century earlier, and Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, inspired by Vivaldi. Both works start from the same question: how should the artist translate personal experience into universally transcendent moments? Solos in both of these wildly atmospheric pieces will feature star turns by our masterful IRIS violinists.

 

PROGRAM
Beethoven Grosse FugueAbout this Music

Composed in 1825-1826. Premiered on March 21, 1826 in Vienna, played by the Schuppanzigh Quartet.

On November 9, 1822, Prince Nikolas Galitzin, a devotee of Beethoven’s music and an amateur cellist, wrote from St. Petersburg asking Beethoven for “one, two or three quartets, for which labor I will be glad to pay you whatever amount you think proper.” Beethoven was elated by the commis- sion and he replied immediately to accept it and set the fee of 50 ducats for each quartet, a high price, but one readily accepted by Galitzin. The music, however, took somewhat longer. The Ninth Symphony was completed in February 1823, but Beethoven, exhausted, was unable to begin Galitzin’s quartets until May. The first of the quartets for Galitzin (E-flat major, Op. 127) was not completed until February 1825; the second (A minor, Op. 132) was finished five months later; and the third (B-flat major, Op. 130) was written between July and November, during one of the few periods of relatively good health that Beethoven enjoyed in his last decade. Beethoven completed the Op. 131 and Op. 135 Quartets the following year to round out this stupendous ultimate series of his compositions.

The premiere of the B-flat Quartet was given by the ensemble of violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, a champion of Beethoven’s works in earlier years and the first musician in Austria to undertake public quartet concerts. There had been problems with the performance when Schuppanzigh’s quartet gave the premiere of the E-flat Quartet (Op. 127) in March 1825 (exacerbated by Beethoven being unable to deliver the parts for this extraordinarily difficult music until just two weeks before the concert), and Beethoven granted them the honor of introducing the B-flat Quartet with some trepi- dation. Perhaps that is why he chose to spend the evening of the premiere (March 21, 1826) in a local Viennese café waiting for news. Karl Holz, the second violinist of the ensemble and a close friend of the composer, brought a good report: the performance had gone well and the audience was generally enthusiastic, though everyone seemed puzzled by the Quar- tet’s slow movements and, especially, by its finale, a gigantic construction in fugal style. Holz tried to humor the composer by telling him that the audience demanded encores of the lighter second and fourth movements. Beethoven was incensed. “Yes, these delicacies! Why not the Fugue? ... Cattle!! Asses!!!” Despite the composer’s epithets, the first hearers of this Quartet were a highly sophisticated lot, perhaps the most knowledgeable and sympathetic audience in all of Europe at the time, and Beethoven must have ultimately found some merit in their misgivings, for nine months later he replaced the Grosse Fuge with an alternate finale of more modest dimensions. It was the last music that he completed. The Fuge, in both its original version and in a piano duet transcription, was published separately as Op. 133 two months after his death.

The Grosse Fuge, grand in size and Promethean in thought, bursts from the strict model of the Baroque genre by inextricably combining coun- terpoint, variation and thematic development: it is a virtual compendium of Beethoven’s techniques at their highest level. (Beethoven placed upon the score the legend, “tantôt libre, tantôt recherchée” — “sometimes free, sometimes studied.”) Philip Radcliffe noted that the Grosse Fuge “is best understood if regarded, not as a highly eccentric fugue, but as a kind of symphonic poem consisting of several contrasted but thematically related sections and containing a certain amount of fugal writing.” The work’s principal thematic material is presented dramatically in a short, introductory “overture.” There follow a long fugue, four sections of motivic develop- ment in dense counterpoint (Meno mosso e moderato in 2/4 time; Allegro molto e con brio in 6/8; and altered returns of the 2/4 and 6/8 sections) and a modification of the opening fugue as conclusion.

Piazzola The Four Seasons of Buenos AiresAbout this Music

Composed in 1968.

The Argentinean tango, like American ragtime and jazz, is music with a shady past. Its deepest roots extend to Africa and the fiery dances of Spain, but it seems to have evolved most directly from a slower Cuban dance, the habanera (whose name honors that nation’s capital), and a faster native Argentinean song form, the milonga, both in duple meter and both sensuously syncopated in rhythm. These influences met at the end of the 19th century in the docklands and seamier neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, where they found fertile ground for gestation as the influx of workers streaming in from Europe to seek their fortunes in the pampas and cities of South America came into contact with the exotic Latin cultures. The tango — its name may have been derived from a word of African origin meaning simply “dance,” or from the old Castilian taño (“to play an instrument”), or from a type of drum used by black slaves, or from none of these — came to embody the longing and hard lives of the lower classes of Buenos Aires, where it was chiefly fostered in bawdy houses and back-alley bars by usually untutored musicians. The texts, where they existed, dealt with such forlorn urban topics as faithless women, social injustice and broken dreams. In the years around World War I, the tango migrated out of the seedier neighborhoods of Argentina, leaped across the Atlantic to be discovered by the French, and then went on to invade the rest of Europe and North America. International repute elevated its social status, and, spurred by the glamorous images of Rudolph Valentino and Vernon and Irene Castle, the tango became the dance craze of the 1930s. Tango bands, comprising four to six players (usually piano, accordion, guitar and strings) with or without a vocalist, flourished during the years between the wars, and influenced not just the world’s popular music but also that of serious composers: one of Isaac Albéniz’s most famous works is his Tango in D; William Walton inserted a tango into his “Entertainment with Poems” for speaker and instruments, Façade; and Igor Stravinsky had the Devil in The Soldier’s Tale dance a tango and composed a Tango for Piano, which he also arranged for full orchestra and for winds with guitar and bass.

The greatest master of the modern tango was Astor Piazzolla, born in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, a resort town south of Buenos Aires, on March 11, 1921, and raised in New York City, where he lived with his father from 1924 to 1937. Before Astor was ten years old, his musical talents had been discovered by Carlos Gardel, then the most famous of all performers and composers of tangos and a cultural hero in Argentina. At Gardel’s urging, the young Astor moved to Buenos Aires in 1937 and joined the popular tango orchestra of Anibal Troilo as arranger and bandoneón player. Piazzolla studied classical composition with Alberto Ginastera in Buenos Aires, and in 1954, he wrote a symphony for the Buenos Aires Philharmonic that earned him a scholarship to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, the renowned teacher of Copland, Thomson, Carter and many other of the best American composers. Boulanger, as was her method, grounded Piazzolla in the clas- sical European repertory, but then encouraged him to follow his genius for the tango rather than write in the traditional concert genres. When Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires in 1956, he founded his own performing group, and began to create a modern style for the tango that combined elements of traditional tango, Argentinean folk music and contemporary classical, jazz and popular techniques into a “Nuevo Tango” that was as suitable for the concert hall as for the dance floor. He was sharply criticized at first by government officials and advocates of the traditional tango alike for his path-breaking creations. “Traditional tango listeners hated me,” he recalled. “I introduced fugues, counterpoint and other irreverences: people thought I was crazy. All the tango critics and radio stations of Buenos Aires called me a clown, they said my music was ‘paranoiac.’ And they made me popular. The young people who had lost interest in the tango started listening to me. It was a war of one against all, but in ten years, the war was won.” In 1974, Piazzolla settled again in Paris, winning innumerable enthusiasts for both his Nuevo Tango and for the traditional tango with his many appearances, recordings and compositions. By the time that he returned to Buenos Aires in 1985, he was regarded as the musician who had revitalized one of the quintessential genres of Latin music, and he received awards from Down Beat and other international music magazines and from the city of Buenos Aires, as well as a Grammy nomination for his composition Oblivion. Piazzolla continued to tour widely, record frequently and compose incessantly until he suffered a stroke in Paris in August 1990. He died in Buenos Aires on July 5, 1992.

Piazzolla realized his electrifying blend of the fire and passion of the traditional tango with the vast expressive resources of modern harmony, texture and sonority in some 750 widely varied works that explore the genre’s remarkable expressive range, from violent to sensual, from witty to melancholy, from intimate to theatrical. Among his most ambitious concert works is Las Quatro Estaciones Porteñas (“The Four Seasons”), published originally for piano solo in 1968 and later arranged for his own ensemble (he often used one of the movements to open his concerts) and for strings and piano. The four movements, beginning with Spring, are not specifically pictorial, as are Vivaldi’s well-known precedents, but are instead general evocations of the changing seasons in Piazzolla’s native Argentina.

Vivaldi The Four SeasonsAbout this Music

Composed around 1720.

The Gazette d’Amsterdam of December 14, 1725 announced the issuance by the local publisher Michele Carlo Le Cène of a collection of twelve concertos for solo violin and orchestra by Antonio Vivaldi — Il Cimento dell’Armonia e dell’Inventione, or “The Contest between Harmony and Invention,” Op. 8. The works were printed with a flowery dedication typical of the time to the Bohemian Count Wenzel von Morzin, a distant cousin of Haydn’s patron before he came into the employ of the Esterházy family in 1761. On the title page, Vivaldi described himself as the “maestro in Italy” to the Count, though there is no record of his having held a formal position with him. Vivaldi probably met Morzin when he worked in Mantua from 1718 to 1720 for the Habsburg governor of that city, Prince Philipp of Hessen-Darmstadt, and apparently provided the Bohemian Count with an occasional composition on demand. (A bassoon concerto, RV 496, is headed with Morzin’s name.)

Vivaldi claimed that Morzin had been enjoying the concertos of the 1725 Op. 8 set “for some years,” implying earlier composition dates and a cer- tain circulation of this music in manuscript copies, and hoped that their appearance in print would please his patron. The first four concertos, those depicting the seasons of the year, seem to have especially excited Morzin’s admiration, so Vivaldi made specific the programmatic implications of the works by heading each of them with an anonymous sonnet, perhaps of his own devising, and then repeating the appropriate verses above the exact measures in the score they had inspired. The Four Seasons pleased not only Count Morzin, but quickly became one of Vivaldi’s most popular works. A pirated edition appeared in Paris within weeks of the Amsterdam publication and by 1728, the concertos had become regular items on the programs of the Concert Spirituel in Paris. The Spring Concerto was adapted in 1755 as an unaccompanied flute solo by Jean Jacques Rousseau, the philosopher and dilettante composer who was attracted by the work’s musical portrayal of Nature, and as a motet (!) by Michel Corrette to the text “Laudate Dominum de coelis” in 1765. Today, The Four Seasons remains Vivaldi’s best-known work and one of the most beloved compositions in the orchestral repertory.

Of Vivaldi’s more than 400 concertos, only 28 have titles, many of them referring to the performer who first played the work or to the occasion for which it was written. Of the few composition titles with true programmatic significance, seven are found in the Op. 8 collection: The Four Seasons plus La Tempesta di Mare (“The Storm at Sea”), La Caccia (“The Hunt”) and Il Piacere (“Pleasure”). Concerning the title of the Op. 8 set — “The Contest between Harmony and Invention” — Amelia Haygood wrote, “‘Harmony’ represents the formal structure of the compositions; ‘inven- tion’ the unhampered flow of the composer’s creative imagination; and the ‘contest’ implies a dynamic balance between the two, which allows neither ‘harmony’ nor ‘invention’ to gain the upper hand. The perfect balance which

results offers a richness in both areas: the outpouring of melody, the variety of instrumental color, the vivid musical imagery are all to be found within a formal framework which is elegant and solid.”

Though specifically programmatic (Lawrence Gilman went so far as to call The Four Seasons “symphonic poems” and harbingers of Romanticism), the fast, outer movements of these works use the ritornello form usually found in Baroque concertos. The opening ritornello theme (Italian for “return”), depicting the general emotional mood of each fast movement, recurs to separate its various descriptive episodes, so that the music fulfills both the demands of creating a logical, abstract form and evoking vivid images from Nature. The slow, middle movements are lyrical, almost aria-like, in style. Though Vivaldi frequently utilized in these pieces the standard concertino, or solo group, of two violins and cello found in the 18th-century concerto grosso, The Four Seasons is truly a work for solo violin and orchestra, and much of the music’s charm comes from the contrasting and interweaving of the soloist, concertino and accompanying orchestra. Of these evergreen concertos, Marc Pincherle, in his classic biography of Vivaldi, wrote, “Their breadth, their clearness of conception, the obvious pleasure with which the composer wrought them, the favorable reception which has been theirs from the first, their reverberations since then — all these unite to make them one of the masterpieces of the descriptive repertory.”

ARTISTS
Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioConductor Michael Stern is the Music Director of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. Now in its second decade, IRIS has a unique model, drawing its musicians from the leading orchestras, universities and chamber groups around the country. IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, IRIS has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2014-15 season also marks Stern's ninth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. Mr. Stern and the orchestra, joined by an amazing collection of guest artists, have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their new world-class performance home, Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kansas City Symphony’s second CD for award-winning audiophile label Reference Recordings, Britten’s Orchestra, won a 2011 Grammy award in the “Surround Sound Album” category, and producer David Frost won “Producer of the Year, Classical.” The Symphony and Mr. Stern have also recorded for the Naxos label. The Symphony’s concerts with internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato were featured on the national PBS Summer Arts Series in July 2012.

Other positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.

Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others.

In North America, Mr. Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Mr. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history. He makes his home in Kansas City and in Connecticut with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two young daughters.

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Sharon Roffman
Sharon Roffman
Defiance and Conscience
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Sharon Roffman, violin
Date: Saturday, January 24, 2015
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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During the week of Martin Luther King Day, Defiance and Conscience features the world premiere of a new concerto by Bruce Adolphe, “I Will Not Remain Silent,” inspired by the moral courage of Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who stood up to the horrors of the Nazis and later stood side by side with Dr. King in the fight for civil rights. To honor their lives and voices, the composer speaks through what he calls the “prophetic voice” of the violin, here performed by impassioned American violinist Sharon Roffman. The transformative power of music is apparent in the glorious Adagietto movement from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, an unfettered declaration of love from Mahler to his wife. Closing the concert is Beethoven’s expansive, complex Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” one of the great examples of music’s ability to reflect moral struggle and perseverance. Championing political liberty, the “Eroica” is also a personal chronicle of Beethoven’s increasingly sad realization of his deafness. Three composers, writing in the opening years of three successive centuries, affirm the power of music to convey courage and communion.

PROGRAM
Mahler Adagietto from Symphony No. 5About this Music

Composed in 1902; much revised through 1911. Premiered on October 18, 1904 in Cologne, conducted by the composer.

In November 1901, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) met Alma Schindler, daughter of the painter Emil Jacob Schindler, then 22 and regarded as one of the most beautiful women in Vienna. Mahler was 41. Romance blossomed. They were married in March and were parents by November. Their first summer together (1902) was spent at Maiernigg, Mahler’s country retreat on the Wörthersee in Carinthia in southern Austria. It was at that time that the Fifth Symphony was composed, incorporating some sketches from the previous summer. He thought of this work as “their” music, the first artistic fruit of his married life with Alma. But more than that, he may also have wanted to create music that would be worthy of the new circle of friends that Alma, the daughter of one of Austria’s finest artists and most distinguished families, had opened to him — Gustav Klimt, Alfred Roller (who became Mahler’s stage designer at the Court Opera), architect Josef Hoffmann and the rest of the cream of cultural Vienna.

In the Fifth Symphony, Mahler seems to have taken inordinate care to demonstrate the mature quality of his thought (he was, after all, nearly twice Alma’s age) and to justify his lofty position in Viennese artistic life as director of the Court Opera. Free of his duties at the Opera between seasons, he labored throughout the summer of 1902 on the Fifth Symphony at his little composing hut in the woods, several minutes walk from the main house at Maiernigg. So delicate was the process of creation that he ordered Alma not to play the piano while he was working lest the sound, though distant, should disturb him (she was a talented musician and budding composer until her husband forbid her to practice those skills after their wedding), and he even complained that the birds bothered him because they sang in the wrong keys (!). The composition was largely completed by early autumn when the Mahlers returned to Vienna, but Gustav continued to revise the orchestration until the year he died. The serene Adagietto, perhaps the most famous (and most often detached) single movement among Mahler’s symphonies, serves as a calm interlude between the gigantic dramatic movements surrounding it.

Adolphe Violin Concerto “I Will Not Remain Silent” (world premiere)About this Music

Composed in 2014.
WORLD PREMIERE.

Bruce Adolphe has composed music for many renowned musicians and ensembles, including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Brentano String Quartet, Beaux Arts Trio, Washington National Opera, Metropolitan Opera Guild, Human Rights Orchestra and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In upcoming seasons, Adolphe's Piano Concerto will be premiered in the United States by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert and in Europe by the Zurich Philharmonia conducted by Fabio Luisi. In 2013, Adolphe's Mary Cassatt: Scenes from Her Life was premiered at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton by the Cassatt String Quartet. Also in 2013, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra played the premiere of the orchestral version of his Do You Dream in Color? conducted by Jeffrey Kahane with mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, and his The End of Tonight for three mezzo-sopranos, three cellos and piano was premiered at the Greene Space in New York. Adolphe's Self Comes to Mind, written with neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, premiered at the American Museum of Natural History in 2009, featuring Yo-Yo Ma. Of Art and Onions: Homage to Bronzino, which he composed for the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was premiered in 2010 at the Met Museum and received its European premiere at the Teatro Goldoni in Florence. His Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society for chorus and chamber ensemble — a work about civil rights and social justice commissioned for the 90th anniversary of the University of Michigan's School of Social Work — premiered in November 2011.

In addition to composing, Adolphe holds several positions concurrently as founder and director of the Meet the Music! family concert series and resident lecturer at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and creator of public radio's weekly Piano Puzzler on Performance Today. The author of three books on music, Mr. Adolphe has taught at Yale, the Juilliard School and New York University, and was recently appointed Composer-in-Residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute in Los Angeles, where his piece Musics of Memory premiered in October 2014. Bruce Adolphe's book The Mind's Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination was published in a second edition by Oxford University Press in 2013.

The composer writes of I Will Not Remain Silent — A Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Inspired by the Life of Joachim Prinz, "At the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, right before Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his 'I Have a Dream' speech, Joachim Prinz delivered a powerful message that included these words:

"'When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.'


"My wife's family is related to Joachim Prinz (he was the brother-in-law of my father-in-law's first cousin) and so I learned about this extraordinary man through personal stories rather than through media of any kind. My wife and I were married by Jonathan Prinz, Joachim's son. We have visited with Lucie Prinz, Joachim's daughter. When I read Joachim Prinz's autobiography, Joachim Prinz Rebellious Rabbi (edited and with an introduction by Michael A. Meyer), I knew I had to compose some music about him, to bring his life and message to others in the best way I could.

"In an oratorio I composed in 2011 called Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society — which is about civil rights and justice around the world — I set to music Prinz's words, 'The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.' Soon after, I began to ponder how else I might compose music inspired by Prinz. I feel strongly that Prinz's life, his courage to speak out and his eloquence should be more widely known so that more people could be inspired by his example.

"Born in Germany in 1902, Prinz was a brave, outspoken rabbi in Berlin during the Nazi years who saved thousands of lives and risked his own by warning Jews of the evils to come under Hitler. Escaping to America in 1937, Prinz became a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a vociferous, inspiring leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Prinz's participation in the March on Washington was, he always felt, a highlight of his life, the culmination of all the things he had stood for throughout his career both in America and earlier in Germany.

"In the 1950s, the Quakers coined the phrase speak truth to power — it is a phrase that describes the life of Joachim Prinz perfectly. One voice that will not be silent. For me, music is the most effective way to speak out. Joachim Prinz is portrayed by the solo violin throughout I Will Not Remain Silent, while the orchestra represents Nazi Germany in the first movement and America during the Civil Rights Movement in the second movement.
"I felt that a solo violin was the right instrument to portray Joachim Prinz because the violin has a long history of association with the Jewish soul. Whether in Klezmer music, in which the violin is one of the main solo instruments, or in the iconic Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, or even in Fiddler on the Roof, the violin is profoundly tied to Jewish musical identity. Among the many great Jewish violinists who are known throughout the world are Joseph Joachim (friend of Brahms), Leopold Auer, Henryk Wieniawski, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein, Oscar Shumsky, Joseph Gingold, Felix Galamir, David Oistrakh, Henryk Szeryng, Mischa Elman, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Gidon Kremer, Pamela Frank, Gil Shaham, Maxim Vengerov, Joshua Bell and hundreds more, including, of course, Isaac Stern, whose son Michael is the conductor of the IRIS Orchestra. Our soloist for the premiere of the work, also a Jewish violinist, is Sharon Roffman.

"Throughout I Will Not Remain Silent, the violin represents the voice of Joachim Prinz: passionate, urgent, resolute, heroic, brave, compassionate. The orchestra in the first movement sonically creates the landscape of Nazi Germany: violent, brutal, horrifying. In the second movement, the orchestra makes reference to the protest songs of the Civil Rights Movement by combining fragments and phrases of that music into a rich texture that moves forward with energy and high spirits but is also disrupted by violence. In the end, the music celebrates courage and hope."

Beethoven Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"About this Music

Composed in 1803-1804. Premiered in December 1804 in Vienna.

The year 1804 — the time Beethoven finished his Third Symphony — was crucial in the modern political history of Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte had begun his meteoric rise to power only a decade earlier, after playing a significant part in the recapture in 1793 of Toulon, a Mediterranean port that had been surrendered to the British by French royalists. Britain, along with Austria, Prussia, Holland and Spain, was a member of the First Coalition, an alliance that had been formed by those monarchial nations in the wake of the execution of Louis XVI to thwart the French National Convention's ambition to spread revolution (and royal overthrow) throughout Europe. In 1796, Carnot entrusted the campaign against northern Italy, then dominated by Austria, to the young General Bonaparte, who won a stunning series of victories with an army that he had transformed from a demoralized, starving band into a military juggernaut. He returned to France in 1799 as First Consul of the newly established Consulate, and put in place measures to halt inflation, instituted a new legal code, and repaired relations with the Church. It was to this man, this great leader and potential saviour of the masses from centuries of tyrannical political, social and economic oppression, that Beethoven intended to pay tribute in his majestic E-flat Symphony, begun in 1803. The name "Bonaparte" appears above that of the composer on the original title page.

Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of France in 1804 and was crowned, with the new Empress Josephine, at Notre Dame Cathedral on December 2nd, an event forever frozen in time by David's magnificent canvas in the Louvre. Beethoven, enraged and feeling betrayed by this usurpation of power, roared at his student Ferdinand Ries, who brought him the news, "Then is he, too, only an ordinary human being?" The ragged hole in the title page of the score now in the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna bears mute testimony to the violent manner in which Beethoven erased Napoleon from this Symphony. He later inscribed it, undoubtedly with much sorrow, "To celebrate the memory of a great man."

The "Eroica" ("Heroic") is a work that changed the course of music history. There was much sentiment at the turn of the 19th century that the expressive and technical possibilities of the symphonic genre had been exhausted by Haydn, Mozart, C.P.E. Bach and their contemporaries. It was Beethoven, and specifically this majestic Symphony, that threw wide the gates on the unprecedented artistic vistas that were to be explored for the rest of the century. In a single giant leap, he invested the genre with the breadth and richness of emotional and architectonic expression that established the grand sweep that the word "symphonic" now connotes. For the first time, with this music, the master composer was recognized as an individual responding to a higher calling. No longer could the creative musician be considered a mere artisan in tones, producing pieces within the confines of the court or the church for specific occasions, much as a talented chef would dispense a hearty roast or a succulent torte. After Beethoven, the composer was regarded as a visionary — a special being lifted above mundane experience — who could guide benighted listeners to loftier planes of existence through his valued gifts. The modern conception of an artist — what he is, his place in society, what he can do for those who experience his work — stems from Beethoven. Romanticism began with the "Eroica."

The Symphony's first movement, perhaps the largest sonata design composed to that time, opens with a brief summons of two mighty chords. At least four thematic ideas are presented in the exposition, and one of the wonders of the Symphony is the way that Beethoven made these melodies succeed each other in a seemingly inevitable manner, as though this music could have been composed in no other way. The development section is a massive essay progressing through many moods which are all united by an almost titanic sense of struggle. It is in this central portion of the movement and in the lengthy coda that Beethoven broke through the boundaries of the 18th-century symphony to create a work not only longer in duration but also more profound in meaning. The composer's own words are reflected in this awe-inspiring movement: "Music is the electric soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents."

The beginning of the second movement — "Marcia funèbre" ("Funeral March") — with its plaintive, simple themes intoned over a mock drum-roll in the basses, is the touchstone for the expression of tragedy in instrumental music. The mournful C minor of the opening gives way to the brighter C major of the oboe's melody in a stroke of genius that George Bernard Shaw, during his early days as a music critic in London, admitted "ruins me," as only the expression of deepest emotion can. A development-like section, full of remarkable contrapuntal complexities, is followed by a return of the simple opening threnody, which itself eventually expires amid sobs and silences at the close of this eloquent movement.

The third movement is a scherzo, the lusty successor to the graceful minuet. The central section is a rousing trio for horns, one of the earliest examples (Haydn's "Horn Call" Symphony is an exception) of the use of more than two horns in an orchestral work.
The finale is a large set of variations on two themes, one of which (the first one heard) forms the bass line to the other. The second theme, introduced by the oboe, is a melody that appears in three other of Beethoven's works: the finale of the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, the Contradanse No. 7 and the Variations and Fugue, Op. 35 for piano. The variations accumulate energy as they go, and, just as it seems the movement is whirling toward its final climax, the music comes to a full stop before launching into an extended Andante section that explores first the tender and then the majestic possibilities of the themes. A brilliant Presto led by the horns concludes this epochal work.

ARTISTS
Sharon Roffman violinAbout this Artist

Violinist Sharon Roffman, prizewinner in the 2003 Naumburg Foundation International Competition, made her solo debut with the New Jersey Symphony in 1996. Since then, Ms. Roffman has forged a unique career distinguished by her versatility. Equally sought after as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral leader and music educator, Ms. Roffman made her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins with Itzhak Perlman playing and conducting in 2004; she has performed all over the world as guest leader of Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Swedish Radio Symphony, principal 2nd of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, as well as a guest member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Roffman was a member of Orchestre National de France from 2009-2011.

As a chamber musician, Ms. Roffman has collaborated with members of the Guarneri quartet, Juilliard Quartet, Brentano Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, Avalon Quartet, and Miami Quartet among others, has been a frequent guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Meet the Music and Inside Chamber Music series, was a member of the critically acclaimed contemporary music ensemble counter)induction from 2007-2009, and spent several summers performing at the Marlboro Music Festival. Passionate about education, Ms. Roffman is the founder and artistic director of ClassNotes, a chamber music ensemble and non-profit organization dedicated to introducing public school students to classical music through interdisciplinary school residencies and performances. Ms. Roffman is a graduate of the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music; her former teachers include Itzhak Perlman, Donald Weilerstein, Peter Winograd, Robert Lipsett, Patinka Kopec and Nicole DiCecco.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioConductor Michael Stern is the Music Director of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. Now in its second decade, IRIS has a unique model, drawing its musicians from the leading orchestras, universities and chamber groups around the country. IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, IRIS has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2014-15 season also marks Stern's ninth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. Mr. Stern and the orchestra, joined by an amazing collection of guest artists, have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their new world-class performance home, Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kansas City Symphony’s second CD for award-winning audiophile label Reference Recordings, Britten’s Orchestra, won a 2011 Grammy award in the “Surround Sound Album” category, and producer David Frost won “Producer of the Year, Classical.” The Symphony and Mr. Stern have also recorded for the Naxos label. The Symphony’s concerts with internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato were featured on the national PBS Summer Arts Series in July 2012.

Other positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.

Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others.

In North America, Mr. Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Mr. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history. He makes his home in Kansas City and in Connecticut with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two young daughters.

VIDEO

Jeremy Denk Jeremy Denk
Thankfulness and Transcendence
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Jeremy Denk, piano

Date: Saturday, February 21, 2015
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)


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Thankfulness and Transcendence opens with Beethoven's sublime "Heiliger Dankgesang," an ecstatic hymn of gratitude written when he was recuperating from illness, here performed in the version for string orchestra. Beethoven's fiercely personal expression of thanks is profoundly and movingly universal, and became the inspiration for Bartók's third piano concerto. Aware that he was in his final days, Bartók worked feverishly to finish the concerto, and died four days later. Returning to IRIS to perform this haunting concerto is the brilliantly adventurous pianist Jeremy Denk, 2013 MacArthur "Genius" award recipient and Musical America's 2014 Musician of the Year. Closing the concert, Schubert's ninth symphony unfolds on a vast canvas, elaborate and triumphant, explicitly composed with Schubert's hero, Beethoven, in mind. Like Beethoven, Schubert was writing during a reprieve in his struggle with illness. Through Schubert's symphony, Beethoven's optimism and life force are keenly felt; his humanity lives within the music.

PROGRAM
Beethoven "Heiliger Dankgesang" (Holy Song of Thanks)About this Music

Composed in 1825. Premiered on September 9, 1825 in Vienna, played by the Schuppanzigh Quartet.

The A minor Quartet was the product of the difficult time Beethoven experienced early in 1825. He had begun sketching the piece by the end of the previous year, but before he could progress very far with it he was stricken with a serious intestinal inflammation, a frequent bane of his later years. He had recovered sufficiently by May 7th to repair to the distant Viennese suburb of Baden, and remained there — with occasional visits to the city — until mid-October. It was at Baden that the A minor Quartet was largely written. Beethoven's illness and recovery touch directly on the substance of the work, which takes as its centerpiece a magnificent Adagio titled Heiliger Dankgesang, "Holy Song of Thanks," according to the composer, "from One Made Well, to the Divine; in the Lydian Mode." The Adagio is not only the central element in the five-movement structure of the Quartet, but also its expressive heart. The movement's form alternates varied versions of a hymnal theme of otherworldly stillness based on the ancient church modes with a more rhythmically dynamic strain marked "feeling new strength."

Bartók Piano Concerto No. 3About this Music

Composed in 1945. Premiered on February 8, 1946 in Philadelphia, conducted by Eugene Ormandy with György Sándor as soloist.

There were a few signs during the last year of Bartók's life that his fortunes were improving. Performances of his works, which had been woefully infrequent since his arrival in America in 1940, were occurring with more regularity, undoubtedly inspired by the fine success that his Concerto for Orchestra had enjoyed at its premiere in December 1944 in Boston under the baton of Sergei Koussevitzky. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers had provided him with much-needed rest cures in New York State and North Carolina and was also seeing that he got adequate medical attention, something his meager income could not easily cover. His publisher had agreed to provide him with a small annual stipend above his royalty payments. Several commissions for new works arrived, including one for a viola concerto from William Primrose and another for a two-piano concerto from Ethel Bartlett and Rae Robinson. There was a glimmer of hope that the punishingly difficult years of economic hardship and artistic neglect might finally be coming to an end. Concerning his health, however, there were nothing but ominous portents.

Bartók, never a robust man, suffered from serious ailments all the while he was in the United States. Some of his problems were never diagnosed, but he was often anemic, and during the last half-year his health failed steadily and rapidly. The ultimate cause of his death was leukemia, and that illness was taking its sorry toll during those last months. After the premiere of the Concerto for Orchestra in December 1944, he turned his attention to Primrose's commission for the work for viola, and spent much of the time during the spring, when he was physically able, in its composition. To be as efficient with his time and strength as possible, he devised a sort of musical shorthand that could indicate, for example, a complete chord with a single slash.

In the early summer of 1945, he took time from the Viola Concerto to begin another concerto, one for piano. This work may have been occasioned by the commission from Bartlett and Robinson, though seemingly reliable sources differ on this point. What is known is that Bartók became enflamed with the notion of writing a solo concerto, a concerto that his wife, the pianist Ditta Pásztory, could use as a vehicle for her own concert performances. He viewed the work as almost a legacy he could leave to his family in place of the money he never was able to earn. He labored feverishly on the Concerto during the summer. By September 22nd, only four days before his death, he had finished the entire score except for the last seventeen measures. His thoughts for the close of the piece were encoded in the shorthand he had devised for the Viola Concerto, and Tibor Serly, his friend and disciple, deciphered and scored the remaining bars; Serly also completed the Viola Concerto from Bartók's sketches.

The Third Piano Concerto, like the Concerto for Orchestra, conveys a different aura than many of Bartók's earlier works. Subdued are the thorny harmonic idiom, the complex textures, the percussive phrasing of the first two Piano Concertos, the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and the String Quartets. In their place is an idiom more easily accessible — mellower in mood and more immediate in emotional expression. The style, however, is still quintessentially Bartókian, and the composer sacrificed none of the awesome control of form and materials that he displayed in previous compositions. John Weissmann, in his appreciation of the Concerto, wrote, "[This work has] a lightness of texture, transparency of treatment, and serenity of atmosphere, achieved with an ease of expression that is obviously the result of his comprehension of ultimate essentials."

The Concerto is clear and compact in its structure. The opening movement, in sonata form, begins with a rustling of strings that introduces the first theme, a tune played in octaves by the soloist that displays the melodic leadings and jagged rhythms of Magyar folk song. An extended group of secondary ideas, all with smoother rhythms, stands in place of a true development section. The piano presents the recapitulation of the first theme, thickened harmonically, amid the resumed rustling of the strings. Some of the subsidiary ideas are repeated before the movement ends with a tiny tag, a summary statement by flute and piano that condenses the essential melodic and rhythmic germs of the preceding music.

The first portion of the second movement (Adagio religioso) recalls the technique and serenity of a Renaissance motet in its close imitative entries and chordal texture. Piano and strings alternate phrases in this music, the most beatific Bartók ever wrote. The atmospheric central section of the movement is almost themeless, consisting rather of whisperings in the strings and twitterings in the winds that Tibor Serly said were based on bird calls Bartók had noted down on his retreat at Asheville, North Carolina during 1944. The chorale returns in the woodwinds, accompanied by a restrained commentary from the soloist.

Following almost without interruption, the finale, with its lusty, irregular metric groupings, exudes the festive air of a vigorous peasant dance. The movement is a rondo whose fugal first episode is announced by taps on the solo timpani. Following an abbreviated repeat of the main theme, the timpani heralds another episode, this one more extended, but also fugal in texture. The coda utilizes the rondo theme to bring the Concerto to a brilliant, whirling conclusion. This work, with its rich endowment of the vital human spirit, embodies Bartók's simple artistic credo: "I cannot conceive of music that expresses absolutely nothing."

Schubert Symphony No. 9 "Great"About this Music

Composed in 1825-1828. Premiered on March 21, 1839 in Leipzig, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn.

One of the pleasures of a visit to Vienna in years gone by, as it remains today, was the chance to commune with the shades of the great masters — to breath the air of the Wienerwald; to stop for a leisurely Kaffee mit Schlag at some ancient café; to stand misty-eyed and pensive before silent gravestones. Robert Schumann was not immune to these charms when he went to Vienna in the autumn of 1838. He was looking to improve his fortunes from those he had known in Germany, and he thought the imperial city of the Habsburgs might be a lucky place for him. It was not to be. As with many men of genius, Vienna threw up a cold shoulder to him and Schumann's visit lasted only a few months.

Two of the places Schumann was most eager to visit when he arrived in Vienna were the gravesites of the composers who stood above all others in his estimation. This was easily accomplished as Beethoven and Schubert were buried side by side in the Währing Cemetery. (In later years, the bodies were moved to Vienna's vast Central Cemetery.) Schumann, full of Jean-Paul's fantasies and bursting with heady Romanticism, found a steel pen on Beethoven's grave, and he took it to be an omen. It was with this enchanted instrument that he composed his First Symphony. Standing before Schubert's grave had no less effect. In those early years after Schubert's death at the age of 31 in 1828, his works were known only to a limited but devoted following of music lovers who were determined to see that he received the recognition he deserved. As one of that enthusiastic band, Schumann had his resolve strengthened as one of Schubert's most ardent disciples by his visit to Währing Cemetery.

Franz Schubert's brother, Ferdinand, a teacher of organ at a local conservatory, had become custodian of the unsorted piles of manuscripts that were left at the composer's death. Ferdinand, whom Schumann described as "a poor schoolmaster, entirely without means and with eight children to support," was trying to have Franz's works performed and published, and he was happy to arrange a visit with Schumann, better known at the time as the editor of the important periodical Neue Zeitschrift für Musik ("New Journal for Music") than as a composer. The two men met on New Year's Day 1839 and Schumann set about digging through the musty stacks of manuscript paper. Among the many treasures waiting to be salvaged from this pile, Schumann discovered one of Schubert's greatest jewels — the wondrous C major Symphony. (The extent of these then-unknown compositions may be appreciated if it is realized that three decades later George Grove — author of the first edition of the music dictionary that still bears his name — and Arthur Sullivan — who was to become England's most successful composer of operetta — were still able to uncover among them the scores for the Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, the incidental music to Rosamunde, and many songs and choral works.) As Schumann excitedly turned the pages of the bulky manuscript, he realized that he had in his hands something of surpassing beauty, perhaps Schubert's greatest work. Later he wrote, "I was in a state of bliss. It is not possible to describe it; all the instruments are human voices; it is gifted beyond measure, and the instrumentation is superb ... and this length, this heavenly length, like a novel in four volumes. I was completely happy." He had a copy of the score made and sent to Felix Mendelssohn, then director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, with an urgent plea for the work's performance. Mendelssohn at once realized the extraordinary nature of the Symphony, and he revealed it to the world in a performance only three months after Schumann had unearthed the score.

Little is known of the circumstances of the composition of the C major Symphony. Schubert had no commission for the work, and it was certainly too difficult for the amateur musical societies for which most of his earlier symphonies had been written. The finished score was dated in March 1828, but when the composition was begun is uncertain. It is known that he was working on a symphony during a country retreat in the summer of 1825. That score, the mysterious "Gmunden-Gastein" Symphony, has never surfaced, and it was long assumed that the work had disappeared without a trace. John Reed, in a 1959 article in Music and Letters, however, presented strong evidence that the labor in 1825 was actually on this C major Symphony, and that the "missing" work never existed. (Schubert's Seventh Symphony exists only as an extended but incomplete sketch.) It seems likely that Schubert hoped for a performance of the C major Symphony by the orchestra of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. A friend reported that Schubert had decided at the time that he was finished with song writing, and would devote himself henceforth to opera and symphony. This Symphony and the magnificent C major String Quintet are evidence of the importance Schubert gave to large instrumental pieces late in his brief life. At any rate, the score was submitted to the Viennese organization, which accepted it for consideration. It is uncertain if they held a trial run-through of the work (if they did, it would have been the only time Schubert could have heard any of this music), but it was decided that the piece would not be performed publicly because of its length and difficulty. It was a full decade before Schumann again brought the score to light.

Schumann's initial enthusiasm for the C major Symphony carried over into his published report on the work — written with the steel pen he had found on Beethoven's grave. "All must recognize," he wrote, "that it reveals to us something more than mere fine melody, mere joy and sorrow — that it leads us into a region which we never before explored. Here we find, besides the masterly technicalities of the musical composition, life in every vein, coloring down to the finest grade of possibility, sharp expression in detail, meaning throughout, while over the whole is thrown that glow of romanticism that everywhere accompanies [the music of] Franz Schubert. And then the heavenly length of the Symphony.... How refreshing is this feeling of overflowing wealth!" After the work's Parisian premiere in 1852, Hector Berlioz added, "The Symphony ... is, to my thinking, worthy of a place among the loftiest productions of our art." The work is vast, beautiful and deeply moving, a noble successor to the spirit of transcendent joy that characterizes Beethoven's last symphonic movement. This is music that gives a special poignancy to the epitaph that the poet Grillparzer devised for Schubert's tombstone: "Music has here entombed a rich treasure, but still fairer hopes."

Schubert's C major Symphony opens with a broad introductory melody intoned by the horns. The strings provide a complementary phrase before the trombones restate the opening melody. The main part of the movement begins, at a quicker tempo, with the presentation of the main theme by the strings; the Gypsy-flavored second theme is given by the oboes and bassoons. The exposition closes with a grand, lyrical theme for full orchestra. The development is a masterful construction into which are woven all of the themes of the movement. The recapitulation returns all of the earlier themes in heightened settings. The form of the introspective second movement is subject to more than one interpretation (sonatina — sonata without development — is perhaps the closest description), and the best way to listen to this music is as a series of splendid melodies, carefully balanced in mood, tonality and emotional weight. The Scherzo, bursting with the vibrant energy of a peasant festival, is a complete sonata structure, containing a full development section that explores some wonderful Romantic harmonies. The central trio encompasses one of the most inspired melodies in all of the symphonic literature, a triumph of Viennese Gemütlichkeit, sentiment and sensuality. The finale bristles with a barely contained riot of unquenchable high spirits. The movement's every page is part of a logical progression leading to an ending that is satisfying, overwhelming and seemingly inevitable.

ARTISTS
Jeremy Denk pianoAbout this Artist

One of America's most thought-provoking, multi-faceted and compelling artists, pianist Jeremy Denk is the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship and was named Musical America's 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year. He has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London, and regularly gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and throughout the United States. Last season he returned to Carnegie Hall as part of a 13-city recital tour, in addition to performing at London's Wigmore Hall. He also toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and played Bach's set of six keyboard concertos in a single evening with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He will reprise Bach's concertos on tour with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields next season.

To coincide with the release of his second Nonesuch Records album, Bach: Goldberg Variations, Denk launched the 2013-14 season with performances of the "Goldbergs" in Boston, Chicago, and Washington; the album reached number one of Billboard's Classical Chart and was featured in "Best of 2013" lists by the New Yorker and The New York Times. Other season highlights include his return to Carnegie Hall to play Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 on tour with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas. He reprises the concerto with the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati and Baltimore, as well as with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which he will lead from the keyboard. As Music Director of the 2014 Ojai Music Festival, Denk looks forward to performing and curating, and has written the libretto to a comic opera, The Classical Style, by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky. Inspired by Charles Rosen's eponymous seminal text, the opera—a co-commission of the Ojai Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, and the Aspen Music Festival—features the characters of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Denk is known for his original and insightful writing on music, which Alex Ross praises for its "arresting sensitivity and wit." The pianist's writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New Republic, The Guardian, and on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. One of his New Yorker contributions, "Every Good Boy Does Fine," forms the basis of a memoir he is writing for future publication by Random House. Recounting his experiences of touring, performing, and practicing, his blog, Think Denk, was recently selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress web archives. For his work as a writer and pianist, Out magazine included Denk on its "Out 100" list celebrating the most compelling people of 2013.

In 2012, Denk made his Nonesuch debut with a pairing of masterpieces old and new: Beethoven's final Piano Sonata No. 32, Op. 111, and György Ligeti's Études. The album was named one of the best of 2012 by the New Yorker, NPR, and The Washington Post, and Denk's account of the Beethoven sonata was selected by BBC Radio 3's Building a Library as the best available version recorded on modern piano. Denk has a long-standing attachment to the music of American visionary Charles Ives, and his recording of Ives's two piano sonatas featured in many "best of the year" lists. Last season, the pianist was invited by Michael Tilson Thomas to appear as soloist in the San Francisco Symphony's American Mavericks festival, and he recorded Henry Cowell's Piano Concerto with the orchestra. Having cultivated relationships with many living composers, he currently has several commissioning projects in progress.

Jeremy Denk has earned degrees from Oberlin College, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School. He lives in New York City. For more information, go to jeremydenk.net.

 

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioConductor Michael Stern is the Music Director of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. Now in its second decade, IRIS has a unique model, drawing its musicians from the leading orchestras, universities and chamber groups around the country. IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, IRIS has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2014-15 season also marks Stern's ninth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. Mr. Stern and the orchestra, joined by an amazing collection of guest artists, have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their new world-class performance home, Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kansas City Symphony’s second CD for award-winning audiophile label Reference Recordings, Britten’s Orchestra, won a 2011 Grammy award in the “Surround Sound Album” category, and producer David Frost won “Producer of the Year, Classical.” The Symphony and Mr. Stern have also recorded for the Naxos label. The Symphony’s concerts with internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato were featured on the national PBS Summer Arts Series in July 2012.

Other positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.

Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others.

In North America, Mr. Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Mr. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history. He makes his home in Kansas City and in Connecticut with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two young daughters.

VIDEO


Inon Barnatan Inon Barnatan
The Torch Passes
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Inon Barnatan, piano
Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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The Torch Passes (March 28, 2015) traces Beethoven's symphonic legacy through Brahms and Mendelssohn. Although dubbed a genius by Schumann at 20, Brahms nevertheless felt the symphonic bar set by Beethoven was impossibly high. So the young composer's symphonic impulse took other forms, including the extraordinary Piano Concerto No. 1, which marks the IRIS debut of Inon Barnatan, a young pianist whose brilliant and rapidly ascending career has taken him to the great orchestras and venues around the world, and seen him named the first ever Artist-in-Association with the New York Philharmonic. Mendelssohn's beloved Fourth Symphony, "Italian," harkens back to the early classicism of Beethoven's first two symphonies even as it becomes fully romantic. And we end with the humanism of Beethoven's Egmont Overture, written to accompany Goethe's drama. Characteristic of Beethoven's "heroic period," the overture is the fight for justice made manifest in music, the perfect ending to a season devoted to the celebration of moral ideals, personal and political freedom, great music and the human spirit.

 

PROGRAM
Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1About this Music

Composed in 1854-1859. Premiered on January 22, 1859 in Hanover, conducted by Joseph Joachim with the composer as soloist.

Brahms, in his philosophy and his attitude toward music, was the first modern composer. He emerged as a creator around 1850, at just the time when the signs of interest in the centuries-long history of music first became evident. During earlier generations, a composer developed his style based almost exclusively on knowledge of only his own and the immediately preceding generations, choosing either to continue composing around the same aesthetic principles or to change them in subtle or drastic ways. At no time before the 19th century was the music of earlier eras routinely emulated, venerated or, in most cases, even known. The exceptions are few: notably, the oratorios of Handel, the contrapuntal church style of Palestrina and The Well-Tempered Clavier of Bach, and even the last two of these were more familiar from pedagogy than from performance. Brahms, unlike those before him, drew from the entire history of German music — from Lassus to Bach to Beethoven — and, in so doing, was the first composer to face that set of imposing questions for the creative artist about the historical flow of musical tradition: "What do I keep?" "What do I discard?" "Where do I fit in?"

The 19th century was a time of many noteworthy explorations into the past. Schliemann unearthed Troy; Champollion broke the code of the Rosetta Stone; and a determined French scholar named Coussemaker brushed away seven centuries of dust and forgetfulness to expose the earliest music of western civilization. Brahms saw himself not only as the beneficiary of this newly discovered treasure from earlier times, but also as its curator, a responsibility he accepted as a scholar as well as a composer: he was on the advisory board of the first complete edition of the works of Bach. In his compositions, Brahms forged a distinctive style from three of the great traditions of German music — the lush and luxuriant textures of Lassus and Bach, the formal techniques of Beethoven and the emotionally expressive harmony of Schumann. Brahms brought to this amalgam his own wonderful lyricism and sense of musical architecture.

Brahms did battle with the problem of creating something new without defacing the tradition he revered in every work he wrote. Nowhere is the struggle more evident, however, than in the First Symphony and this First Piano Concerto. He labored for five years on the Concerto before it was performed and then went back and revised it some more. His original intention was to produce a symphony in D minor as his first major orchestral work, and, to that end, he sketched three movements in short score in 1854. The first movement was orchestrated, but Brahms was not satisfied with the result, and he decided to transform his short score into a sonata for two pianos. But even this did not fulfill his vision, as he noted in a letter to Joseph Joachim, violinist, conductor and encouraging friend: "I have often played the first three movements over with Frau Schumann [the composer's widow and the center of Brahms' musical and emotional existence for most of his life], but I find that I require even more than two pianos." The ideas were too symphonic in breadth to be satisfactorily contained by just pianos, yet too pianistic in figuration to be completely divorced from the keyboard. Brahms was quite stuck.

In 1857, the composer Julius Otto Grimm, a staunch friend of Brahms, suggested that his 24-year-old colleague try his sketch as a piano concerto. Brahms thought the advice sound and he went back to work. He selected two movements to retain for the concerto and put aside the third, which emerged ten years later as the chorus Behold All Flesh in the German Requiem. Things proceeded slowly, with Brahms soliciting the advice of Grimm, Joachim and Clara Schumann, and only after two more years did he feel the work ready for performance.

Joachim arranged a performance in Hanover, which was received politely but without enthusiasm. It did not prepare Brahms for the embarrassing debacle at the Leipzig Gewandhaus five days later. "It did not go badly," he wrote to Clara. "I played considerably better than in Hanover and the orchestra was excellent. But the first rehearsal failed to produce any effect on the musicians or the audiences. At the second rehearsal there were no listeners and not a muscle moved on the faces of the players.... At the performance, the first and second movements produced no effect whatsoever and at the end there was only a little desultory applause which was immediately suppressed [by hisses]." The style of the Concerto — broad, serious, without virtuoso pyrotechnics — was new to the Leipzigers, and they did not like it. Brahms also found himself caught between warring factions of local music lovers, being too conservative for the progressive Lisztians and too advanced for the conservative Mendelssohnians. The rejection in Leipzig was the most bitter disappointment he ever suffered, and it was almost certainly one of the reasons he did not complete another orchestral work for a dozen years. Brahms, philosophical as ever, wrote of this humiliation in the best stiff-upper-lip fashion, "It forces one's thoughts to concentrate properly and enhances one's courage."

The Concerto gained popularity slowly, only becoming generally accepted well after its premiere. The change in attitude toward this work was reflected in the writings of that eminent, sometimes correct and always invigorating British music critic and man of letters George Bernard Shaw, who could not see past his pro-Wagnerian bias when he wrote in 1888 of a performance of Brahms' piano concertos, "Brahms' music is at bottom only a prodigiously elaborated compound of incoherent reminiscences." Looking back in 1936, however, Shaw admitted, "This hasty (not to say silly) description of Brahms' music will, I hope, be a warning to critics who know too much.... I had not yet got hold of the idiosyncratic Brahms. I apologize." Brahms is greatly to be admired for following his vision and not giving way to the critics or to the bitter, but temporary, discouragement that accompanied the launching of the D minor Concerto.

The Concerto's stormy first movement is the most openly passionate and impetuous of all Brahms' works. Joachim wrote to Max Kalbeck, the composer's eventual biographer, that this music reflected the anguish Brahms felt over the nervous breakdown and attempted suicide of Robert Schumann just as Brahms was working on his D minor sketch. The movement may also show the impact of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which overwhelmed Brahms when he first heard it in March of 1854. This movement follows the Classical model of double-exposition concerto form, with an extended initial presentation of much of the important thematic material by the orchestra alone ("first exposition"). The soloist enters and leads through the "second exposition," which is augmented to include a lyrical second theme, not heard earlier, played by the unaccompanied piano. The central section of the movement begins with the tempestuous main theme, a truly Romantic motive filled with snarling trills and anguished melodic leaps. The recapitulation enters on a titanic wave of sound, as though the crest of some dark, brooding emotion were crashing onto a barren, rocky shore. The lovely second theme returns (played again by the solo piano), but eventually gives way to the foreboding mood of the main theme. Looking back over the craggy grandeur of this movement, it is not difficult to imagine what must have caused the audience at the Leipzig premiere to reject the Concerto. There is no flashy virtuoso work here, not even a cadenza, but only an equal partnership between soloist and orchestra in music that is serious in content and broad in scope.

The Adagio is a movement of transcendent beauty, of quiet, twilight emotions couched in a mood of gentle melancholy — of "something spiritual" in Clara Schumann's words. Above the first line of Joachim's score, Brahms penciled in the phrase "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini" — "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." This reference, really an informal dedication, is to Robert Schumann, who died while Brahms was working on the Concerto. Schumann was often addressed by his friends as "Mynheer Domine." An additional dedication may be to Schumann's widow, the Clara so dear to Brahms during those years, because he wrote to her that he was "also painting a lovely portrait of you. It is to be the Adagio." Such an overt association of his music with definite sentiments was highly unusual for Brahms, and he later crossed out the Latin phrase in the conductor's score. The emotion of deep tranquility untouched by life's vicissitudes, however, remains.

The finale, perhaps modeled on that of Beethoven's C minor Piano Concerto, is a weighty rondo. Its theme is related to the lyrical second subject of the opening movement by one of those masterful strokes Brahms used to unify his large works. Among the episodes that separate the returns of the rondo theme is one employing a carefully devised fugue that grew directly from Brahms' intensive study of the music of Bach. After a brief, restrained cadenza, the coda turns to the brighter key of D major to provide a stirring conclusion to this Concerto, a work of awesome achievement for the 26-year-old Brahms.

Mendelssohnn Symphony No. 4 "Italian"About this Music

Composed 1831-1833; revised 1834-1837. Premiered on May 13, 1833 in London, conducted by the composer.

Felix Mendelssohn never learned how to take it easy. As a boy, he was awakened at 5:00 every morning to begin a full day of private tutelage, exercise, social instruction and family activities — the busy regimen he learned as a child shaped the rest of his brief life. Inactivity was anathema. Two months of bed rest occasioned by a leg injury in London in 1829 were more painful for the confinement they necessitated than for the medical condition. Throughout his days, Mendelssohn preferred travel to quiet life at home: he trooped across Europe, from Vienna to Wales, from Hamburg to Naples, and was welcomed and admired at every stop. Some of his journeys inspired music — the first of his ten trips to Great Britain, for example, which included a walking tour of Scotland (during which he enjoyed "a half-hour of inconsequential conversation" with Sir Walter Scott), gave rise to the "Scottish" Symphony and the Hebrides Overture.


When he was 21, Mendelssohn embarked on an extensive grand tour of the Continent. He met Chopin and Liszt in Paris, painted the breathtaking vistas of Switzerland, and marveled at the artistic riches (and grumbled about the inhospitable treatment by the coachmen and innkeepers) of Italy. "The land where the lemon trees blossom," as his friend Goethe described sunny Italy, stirred him so deeply that he began a musical work there in 1831 based on his impressions of Rome, Naples and the other cities he visited. The composition of this "Italian" Symphony, as he always called it, caused him much difficulty, however, and he had trouble bringing all of the movements to completion. "For the slow movement I have not yet found anything exactly right, and I think I must put it off for Naples," he wrote from Rome to his sister Fanny. The spur to finish the work came in the form of a commission for a symphony from the Philharmonic Society of London that caused Mendelssohn to gather up his sketches and complete the task.

The new Symphony was met with immediate acclaim at its premiere on May 13, 1833 in London, and was one of the series of British successes that helped enshrine Mendelssohn in the English pantheon of 19th-century musical genius as Queen Victoria's favorite composer. Mendelssohn, however, was not completely satisfied with the original version of the Symphony, and he refused to allow its publication. He tinkered with it again several years later, paying special attention to the finale, but never felt the work to be perfected. It was only after his death that the score was published and became widely available. Despite Mendelssohn's misgivings, the "Italian" Symphony has become one of the most enduring and popular pieces in the orchestral repertory, declared to be virtually perfect by the demanding British critic and scholar Sir Donald Tovey; it was a special favorite of that cantankerous curmudgeon and one-time music critic George Bernard Shaw.

Mendelssohn cast his "Italian" Symphony in the traditional four movements. The opening movement takes an exuberant, leaping melody initiated by the violins as its principal subject and a quieter, playful strain led by the clarinets as its subsidiary theme. The intricately contrapuntal development section is largely based on a precise, staccato theme of darker emotional hue but also refers to motives from the main theme. A full recapitulation of the exposition's materials ensues before the movement ends with a coda that recalls the staccato theme from the development. The Andante, in the style of a slow march, may have been inspired by a religious procession that Mendelssohn saw in the streets of Naples, but it also evokes the chorale prelude sung by the Two Armed Men in Mozart's The Magic Flute. The third movement, the gentlest of dances, is in the form of a minuet/scherzo whose central trio utilizes the burnished sonorities of bassoons and horns. The finale turns, surprisingly, to a tempestuous minor key for an exuberant and mercurial dance modeled on the whirling saltarello that Mendelssohn heard in Rome.

Beethoven Egmont OvertureAbout this Music

Composed in 1810. Premiered on June 15, 1810 in Vienna.

"The first casualty when war comes," observed Senator Hiram Johnson in 1917, "is truth." So when Napoleon invaded Vienna in May 1809, convinced that the Austrian Empire was the major stumbling-block to his domination of Europe, it is not surprising that censorship of literature, of the press and of the theater were instituted immediately. The months until the French departed in October were bitter ones for the Viennese. The value of the national currency dwindled, food was in short supply, and freedoms were limited. Soon after the first of the year, with Napoleon's forces gone, the director of the Hoftheater, Josef Härtel, arranged for the production of a series of revivals of the dramas of Schiller and Goethe, the great figures of the German stage. Appropriately, two plays that he chose dealt with the oppression of a noble people by a foreign tyrant, and of the eventual freedom the patriots won for themselves — Schiller's William Tell and Goethe's Egmont.

Beethoven was commissioned to write the music for Goethe's play. (Adalbert Gyrowetz was assigned William Tell. Rossini's setting of the tale was still two decades in the future.) Egmont, based on an incident from 1567, depicts the subjugation of the Netherlands to the tyrannical Spanish rulers, the agony of the people, and their growing defiance and dreams of liberty, and ends with Count Egmont's call for revolution and his vision of eventual victory in the moments before his execution. Beethoven approached his task with zeal, out of both his unmitigated respect for the author and his humanist's belief in the freedom and dignity of man.

The theme of political oppression overthrown in the name of freedom was also treated by Beethoven in his only opera, Fidelio, and the musical process employed there also served well for Egmont. The triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness, is portrayed through the overall structure of the work: major tonalities replace minor at the moment of victory; bright orchestral sonorities succeed somber, threatening ones; fanfares displace sinuous melodies. Devoid of overtly dramatic trappings, it is the same emotional road he travelled in the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies. The incidental music to Egmont mirrors the plight of the Dutch people and their determination to be free, finishing with a Siegessymphonie, a "Symphony of Victory." The Overture compresses the action of the play into a single musical span. A stark unison begins the introduction. Twice, stern chords from the strings are answered by the lyrical plaints of the woodwinds. An uneasy hush comes over the last measures of this solemn opening. The main body of the Overture commences with an ominous melody in the cellos. A storm quickly gathers (note the timpani strokes), but clears to allow the appearance of the contrasting second theme, a quicker version of the material from the introduction. The threatening mood returns to carry the music through its developmental central section and into the recapitulation. The second theme is extended to include passages cloaked in the burnished sound of horns and winds. A falling, unison fourth followed by a silence marks the moment of Egmont's death. Organ-like chords from the winds sustain the moment of suspense. Then, beginning almost imperceptibly but growing with an exhilarating rapidity, the stirring song of victory is proclaimed by the full orchestra. Tyranny is conquered. Right prevails.

ARTISTS
Inon Barnatan pianoAbout this Artist

One of today's most exciting and compelling artists, Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan has recently been appointed New York Philharmonic's first Artist in Association. He will perform multiple times with the orchestra over several seasons, beginning with his subscription debut playing Ravel's Concerto in G with Alan Gilbert in 2014/15.

Mr. Barnatan has performed with many of the most esteemed ensembles in the USA, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Dallas, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, and he has worked with eminent conductors including Roberto Abbado, Lawrence Foster, James Gaffigan, Jahja Ling, Nicholas McGegan, Matthias Pintscher, David Robertson, Robert Spano, Bramwell Tovey, Juraj Valchua, Edo De Waart, Pinchas

Zukerman, and Jaap van Zweden, among others. He has toured twice with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields as a conductor and soloist, and has performed in New York at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y and at Lincoln Center, and at San Francisco's Herbst Theater, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, Washington's Kennedy Center and Boston's Jordan Hall, among many other important venues. He moved to the United States in 2006, and In 2009 he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, an honor reflecting the strong impression he has made on the American music scene in such a short period of time.

In addition to his American appearances, Mr. Barnatan has appeared as a soloist with the Aachen Symphony, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of New Europe, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent performer at Wigmore Hall and the Concertgebouw, and has appeared in some of Europe's most illustrious venues, such as The Paris Louvre, Berlin's Philharmonie, London's South Bank, and Framkfurt's Alte Oper.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1979, Inon Barnatan started playing the piano at the age of three after his parents discovered he had perfect pitch, and he made his orchestral debut at eleven. His studies connect him to some of the 20th century's most illustrious pianists and teachers: he studied with Professor Victor Derevianko, who himself studied with the Russian master Heinrich Neuhaus, and in 1997 he moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Maria Curcio – who was a student of the legendary Artur Schnabel – and with Christopher Elton. Leon Fleisher has also been an influential teacher and mentor. In 2006 Mr. Barnatan moved to New York City, where he currently resides in a converted warehouse in Harlem. For more information about Mr. Barnatan visit www.inonbarnatan.com.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioConductor Michael Stern is the Music Director of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. Now in its second decade, IRIS has a unique model, drawing its musicians from the leading orchestras, universities and chamber groups around the country. IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, IRIS has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2014-15 season also marks Stern's ninth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. Mr. Stern and the orchestra, joined by an amazing collection of guest artists, have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their new world-class performance home, Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kansas City Symphony’s second CD for award-winning audiophile label Reference Recordings, Britten’s Orchestra, won a 2011 Grammy award in the “Surround Sound Album” category, and producer David Frost won “Producer of the Year, Classical.” The Symphony and Mr. Stern have also recorded for the Naxos label. The Symphony’s concerts with internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato were featured on the national PBS Summer Arts Series in July 2012.

Other positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.

Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others.

In North America, Mr. Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Mr. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history. He makes his home in Kansas City and in Connecticut with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two young daughters.

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